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Trade body threatens council with Judicial Review over licensing plan

The Residential Landlords Association is threatening a council with a judicial review because of unresolved concerns over the authority’s selective licensing plans.

Great Yarmouth council is proposing to bring rented homes in parts of one electoral area, Nelson, into the scope of selective licensing.

However, the RLA believes one of the conditions set to be imposed as part of the scheme is unlawful and has written to the council asking for urgent clarification.

The RLA believes the local authority’s plans to make it compulsory for landlords affected to join a ‘landlord support service’ run by a third-party delivery partner are unlawful.

The association says that while some councils do legitimately use delivery partners to administer and enforce schemes – notably in Doncaster and West Lindsey – these do not require landlords to become members of the partner organisation as a pre-condition of licensing.

The RLA believes the council has no power to impose such a condition – and pointed this out in its official response to the licensing consultation earlier this year. In fact, the association believes existing rules do not even allow councils to ask whether landlords are members of such organisations.

RLA policy director David Smith says: “We are asking for immediate clarification on the council’s position. If our understanding is correct we want the council to reconsider this aspect of the scheme and come up with a lawful alternative. If it will not we will move ahead and issue a claim for a judicial review on this basis.”

Under the current plans the new licensing scheme is due to be introduced with fees set at more than £500 per property for the five-year licensing period, plus a monthly fee of £9.50 to be paid to the landlord support scheme.

The scheme is 20 per cent more expensive via the delivery partner, as VAT is payable.

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